Speaking a different language is a challenge, but especially difficult when you need to be proficient enough to maneuver through a city. My final trip of the semester challenged me in this way, because I had not taken Spanish language classes since my senior year of high school, and I found myself suddenly very immersed in an embarrassingly rough conversation with an airport cab driver. Luckily, he knew some English, and we were able to communicate enough to be dropped off in front of our AirBnB with the knowledge of the closest metro station available.
Once we had settled in, we headed out for a dinner of tapas, which are traditional Spanish style small plates or appetizers that you share. Interestingly, we headed out at around 10:45 PM in search of a restaurant. Granted, this was a Saturday night, but we ended up eating dinner at around midnight, and from there headed out to get sangria.
Our two days flew by: we saw the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell one day, and the next we headed out to the costal beach on Costa Brava to snorkel and kayak. Sagrada Familia is like no other architectural structure that I’ve ever seen. It seems to breathe as the wind flows throughout the huge cathedral and the sun glistens through the stained glass windows. Kayaking and snorkeling, although freezing, were rewarding for many reasons. We felt much better about eating all those tapas the night before, plus we got to see an array of amazing sea life – including an octopus. Seeing a wild octopus camouflage itself and ink as it ran away is an experience I never thought I’d have but am so happy to have.
Language definitely remained a barrier, although I feel like I successfully communicated with multiple cab drivers, read signs, listened to conversations and ordered at a pub. My handy-dandy English-Spanish dictionary application helps immensely for remembering verbs and nouns that I hadn’t thought about in years. I was happy to be able to practice, but also have a much higher appreciation than before of people who are multi-lingual.
Although it was so much fun, it was hard to leave knowing that it would be my last trip for now. Europe will no longer be at my fingertips, and I won’t be able to take the dart to Howth for the day. London will be a distant memory and I won’t be able to order a Guinness in a pub on my school campus. Leaving Barcelona seemed to be a symbol for all of that ending. I can’t express how grateful I am for the time I’ve had abroad. I am truly blessed to have had those opportunities.